Are green smoothies better for you?

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What about green smoothies? I blend apples, bananas, blueberries and spinach.

Heidi Woodruff / Originally asked on Best fruit juice

Answer:

I’m a huge green smoothie fan! You’re taking the healthiest thing on the planet (dark green leafy vegetables) and releasing all that nutrition (you could never really chew that well). In fact I just wrote the foreword for the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Smoothies, which will be out May 2012.

I’m currently compiling all the data in the scientific literature on the health effects of green smoothie consumption (for example there was a promising experimental trial recently performed in the UK). So stay tuned for a smoothie video in the 2013 batch I’m currently working on. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss it!

Image credit: little blue hen / Flickr

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  • Mike

    Thank you for the opinion on green smoothies. Your videos have changed my life for the better.

  • Mike

    One more comment I’m hoping you’ll address with green smoothies: I went to a talk with Caldwell Esselstyn. He is against smoothies for two reasons. When the fruit is blended, the fructose is separated from the fiber and that fructose is very damaging to the liver. Also, without chewing the greens, saliva is greatly reduced, which greatly reduces the transformation of nitrites to nitrates to nitric oxide, which helps the endothelium.

    • DStack

      I am also curious to know how Dr. Greger feels about this idea. I love my post-workout smoothies, but is fructose overload something we should be concerned about? Are there any studies out there to back this up?

    • jeffrey

      Im curious too about the green smoothies..i just blended kale, oatmeal, almonds, and a banana. it seems healthy to me. And I know its waaaay more healthy in the end that eating a burger right now…woo woo!

  • alina

    Hello,

    I have a question regarding oxalate in green smoothies. I have read a few pros and cons regarding the oxalate in green smoothies and now I’m at a lost. Can you please let me know if green smoothies are a huge negative in a healthy lifestyle? I would greatly appreciate your response. Thank you!

  • rick

    Does blending vegetables give you more antioxidants because more (over just chewing) of the cells get broken or do you get less antioxidants because the salivary juices are less blended with the vegetables?

    • Toxins

      You may be exposed to more of the nutrients indeed. I also posted above about the satiation concern. “The fibers are destroyed in a sense that you are no longer satiated as
      much. for example, a whole apple can fill you up more then a blended
      apple. This can be an issue for people who are overweight and do not
      want to consume excess sugar calories. Other than that, the fiber
      content itself is not diminished and you still get the benefits.”

  • Simon

    heard some “expert” (Dr. Robert Lustig, the sugar guy) say that blending fruits/veggies destroys the fibers so that you do not get the insoluble fiber benefits. that sounded like complete bullsh*t, but what do you think ?

    • Toxins

      The fibers are destroyed in a sense that you are no longer satiated as much. for example, a whole apple can fill you up more then a blended apple. This can be an issue for people who are overweight and do not want to consume excess sugar calories. Other than that, the fiber content itself is not diminished and you still get the benefits.

      • Simon

        so you still get the fiber benefits in the intestinal track ?

        i’m not too worried about the satiety issue personnaly. but i do want the intestinal track benefits of fibers.

        thanks

        • Toxins

          Right, the fiber content is still in tact.

          As you can see here on the USDA database, the fiber content is still intact in these smoothies.

          http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/foods-from-jamba-juice/9074/2
          http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/recipe/2344840/2?print=true

          • jms

            Do we know whether the dietary fiber value shown on nutritiondata for the kale smoothie is simply a sum of the ingredients?
            To be persuaded that the fiber content of the kale smoothie was still
            “intact,” I would like to know blood sugar levels after consuming
            the smoothie vs blood sugar levels after consuming the same ingredients
            as whole food.

          • Toxins

            Fruits are easily digested whether they are blended or not, and berries can have sugar spike blunting effects, even when table sugar is added to them

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21929838.1

            In terms of whole grains, highly refined whole wheat flour, such as whole wheat pastry flour, will cause a much greater spike in blood sugar as opposed to unrefined wheat berries.

  • alina

    I have a question regarding oxalate in green smoothies. I have read a few pros and cons regarding the oxalate in green smoothies and now I’m at a lost. Can you please let me know if green smoothies are a huge negative in a healthy lifestyle? I would greatly appreciate your response. Thank you!

    • Toxins

      Unless you have a severe kidney issues, oxalates in greens are of no issue. Furthermore, not all greens have a high oxalate content. Kale, bok choy, arugala and collards are fairly low oxalate greens.

      • sisq

        I have the same question as alina – everywhere I look there is contradictory information out there on oxalic acid in food, not only for kidney stones but other issues as well. I have green smoothies every day including lots of these foods – parsley, cabbage, spinach, kale, chard, celery etc. This site brings up a solution – including adding calcium, magnesium and iodine to your smoothie and also cooking your kale (or spinach or whatever) before adding it to a smoothie (ick). http://www.bulletproofexec.com/the-kale-shake-is-awesome-so-upgrade-it/
        Would be interested in a critique of the discussion brought up here and a real investigation into this issue. Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sofia.nva Sofia Nva

    Are green smoothies good for you? Yes.
    But, is the lack of chewing bad for you?
    There are vegans that do only green smoothies for weeks, or only fruit smoothies for weeks(not saying thats healthy imo). So what about chewing? do we neet it?

    • moi

      You can chew a smoothie and it is recommended to drink slowly and take care that every “bite” of smoothie is blended with saliva. ;)

  • http://www.eatandbeatcancer.com/ Harriet Sugar Miller

    I’m still chewing on Brian Clement’s claim that blending is bad because it causes more oxidation than normal. Any thoughts on that? Would high speed blending be even worse than regular blending because of the higher temperatures generated?

  • http://treegrower.org/ Calvin Leman

    Nearly my total intake of fruits and vegetables for a year has been green smoothies of vegetables and weeds, mostly the leaves. For example I blend the leaves of broccoli, I seldom eat the flower. Apparently all I need is in the leaves. With the leaves I blend apple, pear, or other fruit for nutrition and taste. I am more healthy now than when I started this experiment.

    I bring kale, etc. into the house for the winter; and they feed me all winter. This year I will freeze some leaves and use them in the smoothies too in winter. Ground flax seeds and a Vit B12 supplement sometimes go into the smoothie too, because I am vegan.

  • Gayle Delaney

    Acid-like burn from too many greens in my green smoothies??

    For over 10 days My tongue went from VERY deep center furrow and a burned feeling-highly sensitive to all foods as when I have overdosed on Pineapple. I had been drinking DAILY 20-25 ozs. of wonderful green smoothies with mostly collards, kale, and romaine lettuce and spinach with 1/2 banana, some chia seeds or ground flax, and blueberries and/or say, 1/2 cup mangoes on some days. So I cut out the mangoes, then the cruciferous ( the major part of my smoothies) and just used the spinach and banana, then just carrots and almond milk, some seeds and spinach.

    MIssing the greens a lot! Suspect that I over did the raw cruciferous veggies.(Yes, I saw your “overdosing on smoothies video”) My tongue is much better, but still slightly burned feeling. Has anyone experienced this reaction? I have thought of going on a water fast (ugh)to totally rest the poor thing since any food (esp. citric acid of course) irritates it a little.
    Any advice or antidote?
    Thank you for your fabulous site and sweet humanity and reasonable attitude (“Well, if you prefer treated chocolate, just add one more spoonful of the less potent one!”).
    Your non-religious, secular, non fanatic approach and humor are a delight!

    • Dannie

      Thank you for posting your condition. Yes, I have been experiencing a burning tongue and lips for several months, and only recently did I finally pinpoint the source. Green smoothies. Ugh. I rarely eat meat, so I must substitute foods high in iron, which leafy greens do just that. My nutritionist suggested steaming the greens to neutralize the oxalate acid, which could be the cuplprit. Unfortunately, some nutrients will be destroyed, but others like iron are somewhat heat-resistant. In time I will have my blood tested again to be sure that I am getting enough iron from the steamed greens.

      • http://YourSleepingGenius.com Gayle Delaney

        Thank you Dannie. You are the first to mention this experience similar to mine. After 10 months, I still have a slight acid tongue, slight numbness on the surface. But I am no longer highly intolerant of citrus fruit. I never gave up green smoothies for longer than 3 days. Perhaps unwisely, I just kept drinking our very green smoothies and the condition is less bothersome. Am I damaging my tongue? Is it contributing to inflammation? I do not know, and am surprised that there is not more buzz about this online. I am not allergic to many things and do not want to give up smoothies. I do think it is the greens (kale, collards, spinach combo), but so far I have not been willing to take them out of my smoothies since nice things have happened to my body since drinking them (nearly complete disappearance of 30-year eczema on feet and sometimes hands).

        Dr. Greger’s answer above in this “Ask the Dr.” section:

        I’m currently compiling all the data in the scientific literature on the health effects of green smoothie consumption (for example there was a promising experimental trial recently performed in the UK). So stay tuned for a smoothie video in the 2013 batch I’m currently working on. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss it!

        I guess he did not come across this reaction in the published research.
        Let us know if steaming the greens helps and if you think your culprit really is oxalic acid!
        Thanks for your lead!
        Gayle

  • Gayle Delaney

    Follow-up on “Acid-like burn from too many green smoothies?” post one month later.
    My tongue is somewhat better, but still feels like i have a too-hot coffee burn every day. I tried taking this or that out of my smoothies with no luck. Tried going off smoothies for 2 days, no difference. I am now hyper-sensitive to lemons and oranges and won’t get near pineapples. But the greens seem sufficient to irritate my tongue and if I get really tired of this I guess I shall have to try giving them up for a long while. Has no one else had this reaction?

    • Thea

      Gayle: Sorry to hear about all your green woes. I haven’t heard of this problem myself. Could it be a developing allergy???

      I just wanted to let you know that your posts were read. And I hope someone will be able to help or that you will find your solution.

      • http://YourSleepingGenius.com Gayle Delaney

        Thank you, Thea. Yesterday Jun 24, 2013 Danny responded to my 10 mo ago original post on “acid tongue.” I responded to Dannie.

  • http://peaches-and-greens.com/ Peaches and Greens

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24621394

    There seems to be a lot of confusion around the benefits of smoothies and juices lately. This particular article conflates commercial fruit juice with smoothies, which are not the same thing at all. Just curious as to what research you’ve come across regarding smoothies and the effect of plasma glucose/insulin?

    • Toxins

      Smoothies may not be as satiating so you would consume more then normal and they are absorbed faster simply because there is more surface area. The fiber content is still intact though. In general, I do not think that smoothies are a health concern. I would be more cautious of juice though.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/fruit-juice-fail/

  • omnimatty

    Did this 2013 smoothie video ever happen? I like to see it. I like smoothies and regardless of what some of the other Docs say, I think they are of value.

  • Jacob

    As some other commenters here, I am wondering what your take is on Dr Brian Clement’s claim that blending destroys up to 92% of the nutrients in smoothies? Here is the link if you haven’t seen the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwyPfZeVmlA

  • Robilynn

    Do green smoothies lose their nutrition value if they sit in the refrigerator for a day or so?